HE President, DR Jose Ramos-Horta, Ready to Return Home

Press Release – Australian Solidarity in Darwin

Sunday 13th April 08

Rob Wesley-Smith 89832113 0419 807175

It is good news the President of Timor-Leste feels strong enough to return home next week after recovering from horrific wounds. That recovery is a tribute to his fitness and the excellent medical care. All Solidarity and I would think all Australians wish him and Timor-Leste the very best of well-wishes.

I found the country last week to be seemingly totally at peace and without angst at present – the curfew probably has something to do with that, plus the shock over the shootings and the realisation that resistance to everything is now not the correct policy, but to work together for a viable and peaceful future.

I found the Ministers and Secretaries of State to be run off their feet, as ordinary Timorese feel it is their right to talk to the chiefs. I wonder where is their thinking time, their time to implement plans, and their family time? There must be senior assistants to take most of the interviews/appointments I reckon. Perhaps this is the reason the Dissidents’ demands were ignored for so long until the whole thing blew up in May/June 06. (One hopes their situation is being resolved comprehensively and quickly. I went to Letefoho last week but didn’t see Salsinha).

PM Xanana has more portfolios on his plate that you could poke a stick at, and he must divest some duties for the above reasons, including appointing a Secretary of State to assist and cover for the Finance Minister I believe.

The President’s office similarly has no daily senior backup as a Secretary of State provides for a Minister. Whilst the current president LaSama is clearly doing a good job, I feel it is wise to allow more recovery time for President Horta.
I suggest that after his emotional return on Thursday, and one or two weeks in the office, he again devolves responsibility to LaSama and takes another couple of months for recharging the batteries. (I have a spare room at Howard Springs.)

He might well contemplate who is to fix the main road from the airport to the city centre and beyond. After years of the same potholes being filled so they broke again, a really good job is required by the middle of this Dry season to convince many that Timor-Leste has the capablity to at least become a 3rd world state.

At present the country cannot feed itself, its basic preventive health situation is dire, young people flood Dili and so don’t help the farmers or help the environment, and the rivers run fast and short and brown with soil which spills into the sea and onto the reefs. I have promoted for a year, without reaction from Government, a PLAN to fix all this, so it is high time this was dealt with (see attached, apols to those who have already been burdened with it.) Perhaps the President could give inspirational leadership here. In today’s media there is an article about GREENCORPS in Australia. Perhaps we need a GreenCorps variant in T-L.

The night before the President leaves Darwin he will no doubt watch the SBS Dateline program on the Alfredo issues and his own shooting. As a long time friend of the Pires family, as indeed was Jose Ramos Horta, I feel the investigation generally and allegations specifically against (beautiful) Darwin woman Angelita should be either completed rapidly or a statement released on where the investigation is at. Leaving serious public allegations hanging for an indeterminate period is certainly not part of Australian law and procedures, and I hope it is not in Timor-Leste.

Justice issues generally are unsatisfactory, the population does not agree with its leaders I feel, and neither does the Solidarity movement. The TFC is an expensive embarrassment waiting to be released. The CAVR report has not been embraced by Xanana, Horta and the Government. The Prosecutor General’s office is either grossly underresourced or totally inadequate to deal with issues from 2008 back to 1999 and beyond. Many of Timor-Leste’s ills can be traced back to undealt with justice issues, and the feelings of injustice many need dealt with before their own lives can come fully back on track. Let’s see leadership on this issue.

It is welcome news that Australia’s AusAid program is to be improved and enlarged. I hope Bob McMullan is open to many suggestions to assist our immediate international neighbour, and not just short term food aid.

Rob Wesley-Smith


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